Emotions: Critical!, Volume One: For the Internet Era

Every so often I will make a post about a few songs that center around a very select and specific feeling. Not an official mix or playlist, not anything like that, just a handful of tracks. A small selection. I say that music causes me to have an emotional reaction, and it’s true, but sometimes we listen to music to reflect the emotional reaction we’re already having. Like, when you’re sad because someone dumped you, and you sit in your car and cry along to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. That Emotions: Criticial! post would be “songs that reflect a time you were in your car crying ’cause it was over and you were having a total eclipse of the heart”. Brought to you loosely by Plutchik’s wheel.

Today, it’s

the kind of calm yet tragic exhaustion when I know should be sleeping now but the glow of my laptop is so alluring

Surely this has happened to you before if you are a member of my age group. Probably many times. It’s three in the morning and you could wonder “why am I awake” but instead you’ve achieved a kind of strange, semi-exhaustion fueled zen, a unique calm, like hypnosis, in front of the soft bluish glow of your computer screen. You could play these three tracks as you surf Pitchfork’s Echo Chamber and your head feels like it floated away from your body, a black balloon.


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“Peripheral Visionaries” is slinky and spaced-out. It’s the half-drunk couple up really late in the hotel bar and lounge, clumsily dancing in dress attire. The gentleman is with tie under left ear and his partner is holding her heels in her free hand as the other arm is slung around his neck. She’s mostly leaning against him for support. Everything I have to say about “The Wilhelm Scream” was best articulated at my other blog, but let me quote myself

A lot of superlatives have been said… “the future of music” heading in this direction, like it can head in any one single direction, but my interest in his music was slow-building I have to admit. I got there, finally, a few weeks ago. I was listening to his cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love” and thinking about how the appeal of his music is the distant-ambiance of the backing, a calmer spin away from dubstep where negative space is sculpted with the electronic noise, contrasted with the style of his singing. That’s a warm and uncertain and human voice, a voice with soul. The electronic antics don’t extend to James Blake himself. The genre has a name now, “minimalist soul”, and I thought about that too. How can soul (the soul) be minimalist? It’s such a contemporary concept to carve human uncertainty that throbs like a beating heart over a cold, empty landscape… My personal conclusion about James Blake though stemmed organically from when I found myself calmed and soothed by his album, particularly “The Wilhem Scream”. James Blake is actually an electronic-based artist who uses his voice like brushstrokes of warmth. He’s taking something back from the technology to make it human again. Our modern life is full of these distancing aspects from the technology we’ve come to rely, no survive by. We evolve by our technology and we evolve again when we preserve our true organic selves, carve ourselves out and go on.

The Cloud Remix of “Back in Time” by Clazziquai is all dreamy repetition. It has a sense about it of coming from some distant video-game reality. You sit, clouds drift apart across the sky, and you’re almost finally ready for bed. (Thanks to Earmilk for the heads-up about this track!)

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